1556. Emma Baylin
Emma Baylin, from West Yorkshire, is the founder of social enterprise ‘Shared Harmonies’, which has run free communal singing events for hundreds of people online this year to beat isolation blues and boost wellbeing.
Emma set up ‘Shared Harmonies’ in 2013, providing classes and workshops to bring people together in the shared act of singing to boost their health and wellbeing, working particularly with people affected by cancer, poor mental health, living with dementia, Parkinson’s or respiratory conditions such as COPD. This year, in light of the pandemic, Emma established the Our Song initiative, encouraging people to create and record a song together. Over 300 people of all ages took part, including 60 residents, staff and family members from two care homes in Saltburn and Kent. For Christmas, Emma has planned special Christmas harmony sessions plus ‘ring and sing services’ for those who do not have access to online platforms as well as creating another brand new ‘festive’ song with participants which will be launched on Christmas Eve. Shared Harmonies’ Facebook, Zoom, songwriting and ring and sing services will continue in the New Year.
In a personal letter to Emma, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was so uplifted to hear of the success of ‘Shared Harmonies’ and how you have brought the joy of singing to people across the UK. You have used your gift for music to bring people together virtually at a time when we are not able to meet in person.
“Christmas will be different this year, so it is even more important that people who may be suffering isolation receive a friendly call and the chance to hear uplifting carols.”
“Receiving this award is a real honour. The last few months have been tough but I was determined to find ways to keep connecting people and create a sense of community. Over 25 years experience working in communities has shown me the importance of this work and given me the tools and resilience to face challenging times.
“I originally founded ‘Shared Harmonies’ seven years ago, a social enterprise with the aim of improving confidence, communication and wellbeing through inspirational singing. We pride ourselves on creating situations in which people can flourish and we have continued to do this throughout the pandemic. Evidence tells, that when we come together through music and singing, we make a real difference to people’s wellbeing and sense of belonging. Our experience and participant feedback demonstrate this to be true. The project we are most proud of during these difficult times is “Our Song’, a brand new piece of music co-created with over 300 community members from ages 3-92 from across the country.
“I would not have been able to get to this point without all the amazing people in my life, so my thanks and love go to my partner and family, my incredible team, Jenny Cook, Holly Marland, Ali Bullivent, Jackie Craig, Rosa Sargent, Teresa Lipinski, Tess Parker and John Sargent, our directors, funders, supporters and all the truly remarkable people that join in our services.
“This award is a wonderful recognition of all our efforts in 2020 and as we look ahead to 2021, we are excited to expand our community singing and workplace wellbeing services to transform even more lives.”
Pictured below: Singers taking part in Emma’s ‘Our Song’ initiative this year